This is a blog about my journey with bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed spring of 2011 and was admitted into a mental health hospital a month before my wedding. I struggled greatly for the next year and a half going on and off meds, experimenting with different forms of therapy and was readmitted to the hospital at the end of 2012. Since then I have been learning how to re-live my life. Seeing a wise, supportive, kind therapist once a week and emerging myself into Dialectical Behavioural Therapy are 2 of many ways that are helping me recover. I have found deep comfort and much strength in mindfulness practices, taught to me from DBT.

This blog is my way of allowing you to see into the life of someone who suffers from bipolar, depression and extreme anxiety. I want to own my story, and help defeat the stigma. I hope you find some comfort in knowing you are not alone, or learn more about mental illness through the writings of my blog.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

breathing in: calm, breathing out: tension

It's been over a year since my last post.
Lots has changed.

I've been toying with the idea of starting to write again, but have been uncertain and scared to do so. Do I risk being an oversharer to spread awareness of mental health? Do I need to reveal my suffering and pain so others know they are not alone? Is it brave to share? Or will others think I am weak? Maybe the answers will be different for everyone. For me, I need to write. I need to share.

So what has changed?
Since my discharge from hospital in 2012, I have been meeting weekly with a therapist, I have been working closely with my family doctor and psychiatrist to figure out which meds work for me and which ones don't. I have been participating in a form of therapy called Dialectical Behavioural Therapy, which was created for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. Its foundation is mindfulness, which has its roots in Buddhist practices. Summed up, mindfulness is becoming aware of your present moment and not judging it as good or bad, simply being aware, accepting it gently for what it is. There are countless ways and exercises to help you become more mindful. I find breathing particularly helpful.
More on that later.
What else has changed?
We moved into a new house, and are slowly figuring out how to married, haha. But seriously, our marriage is amazing. We still fight, yell, slam doors, and get annoyed with each other but now we have a foundation of strong love beneath us. We are quicker to forgive, slower to speak mean spirited words, have a greater understanding of each other. We have treaded deep waters and nearly drowned. Bipolar has not been kind to us, but we have come out stronger than ever. Our relationship was tested in ways I never imagined, and we grew and flourished when I thought we wouldn't make it. I have tears in my eyes just writing this; it is good to reflect and be reminded of how far we've come. Ryan is my main supporter, my provider, my care giver, my lover, my encourager, he pushes me to keep going while providing arms to fall into when I have nothing left. Ok, enough sappiness.

For months I have had spirts of doing really well, thriving even, and bouts of deep, dark depression. When I feel strong, it feels like the darkness will never come back. When I feel down, it feels like the sun will never shine again. I am currently struggling to tread the waters I am in. I've been processing and over processing a lot of life shaking things these last 2 weeks, most of which I hope to share with you blog posts to come. But it has left me in a very raw and vulnerable place.

Back to the mindfulness I was talking about earlier. Like I was saying, I find breathing particularly helpful. Focusing on your breath is one of the simplest, most powerful ways I can become mindful. I want to share with you one of my favourite techniques for focusing on breath. You can do this in a quiet place, while driving, waiting for an appt, or in the everyday hustle and bustle of life. So, as you breathe in say calm (you can do this either out loud or in your head) and as you breathe out say tension. Take sloooow DEEP breaths. Inhaling: calm, exhaling: tension. Repeat this several times until you feel your mood calm down, or until you feel done. If during the exercise you find yourself getting distracted, thinking of other thoughts, slowly and gently, without judgement bring yourself back to focusing on the breath. And that's it! I do this a few times a day when I feel anxious or upset, or just when I remember to!
I have created an image that you can print out and post somewhere you'll see it, to help remind you or inspire you.

Looking forward to writing you again soon.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

i have lived pain

A lot of people have been asking how I have been doing lately, so I thought it was time for an update post.
Basically to sum up the past month or so, I have felt like people were saying to me (whether its true or not) that I was TOO emotional, I was TOO sensitive, I was TOO angry, I was TOO much..... so I shut off my emotions, or at least that's what it looked like to the outside world. Suddenly, people thought I was doing healthier, getting better, more functional. They were seeing what they wanted to see, and I was giving it to them. In therapy, my therapist talks about over control and under control; both are not healthy states of mind. In under control you get those strong coming out in inappropriate ways or situations and it feels like you have no control over your emotions, they just consume you. But in over control (which usually happens when someone is feeling like they are "too much"), you start numbing your emotions. The emotions are still there, but you ignore them and pretend they are not there. Unfortunately it is like a pop bottle being shook up, eventually the lid will pop off....
This has been my life lately, the lid of the bottle is beginning to pop off every now and then and it's a real challenge. When the lid pops open, the emotions feel much more intense and dangerous. I've been having suicidal thoughts and urges to self harm. I don't even know what to do about that! I don't know where to find peace or calm or stability. I try to go to my meeting place with Jesus, but I'm not able to find any peace and calm there.
There is a quote that my friend Jadyn (shout out!) shared with me, that I have been clinging too. It brings me peace and hope and a quiet stillness within my spirit and I will share it with you now.....

" I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I've seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I HAVE LIVED PAIN, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for early light dappled through leaves and the heavy perfume of wild roses in early July and the song of crickets on humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in the solidarity with the suffering doesn't rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world" Anne Voskamp

Friday, 29 March 2013


Power Which Feels Like Powerlessness
A daily meditation by Richard Rohr

The supreme irony of the whole crucifixion scene is this: he who was everything had everything taken away from him. He who was seemingly “perfect” (Hebrews 1:3, 5:9) was totally misjudged as “sin” itself (Romans 8:3-4). How can we be that mistaken? The crucified Jesus forever reveals to us how wrong both religious and political authorities can be, and how utterly wrong we all can be—about who is in the right and who is sinful (John 16:8). The crowd, who represents all of us, chose Barabbas, a common thief, over Jesus. That is how much we can misperceive, misjudge, and be mistaken.

Jesus hung in total solidarity with the pain of the world and the far too many lives on this planet that have been “nasty, lonely, brutish, and short.” After the cross, we know that God is not watching human pain, nor apparently always stopping human pain, as much as God is found hanging with us alongside all human pain. Jesus’ ministry of healing and death, of solidarity with the crucified of history, forever tells us that God is found wherever the pain is. This leaves God on both sides of every war, in sympathy with both the pain of the perpetrator and the pain of the victim, with the excluded, the tortured, the abandoned, and the oppressed since the beginning of time. I wonder if we even like that. There are no games of moral superiority left for us now. Yet this is exactly the kind of Lover and the universal Love that humanity needs.

This is exactly how Jesus “redeemed the world by the blood of the cross.” It was not some kind of heavenly transaction, or “paying a price” to an offended God, as much as a cosmic communion with all that humanity has ever loved and ever suffered. If Jesus was paying any price it was to the hard and resistant defenses around our hearts and bodies. God has loved us from all eternity.

Adapted from The Great Themes of Scripture: New Testament
(available from Franciscan Media)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Soft balance

I don't even know what to write anymore.
Things are just bumpy, inconsistent. I can't say I'm doing good. I can't say I'm doing bad. I had a great weekend with great people, but an awful Monday evening. Anxiety is still building, but creativity is flowing.
It's such an eb and flow, I never know what to expect.
I'm finding myself comparing my journey to others who experience suffering, and end up frustrated that I can't will this away. That I can't just make up my mind to be happy, because I want to. And I try, which only makes things worse because it doesn't work. You'd think I would KNOW this already, but it's so hard. I feel alone in my illness, when everyone around me isn't struggling with this. I feel alone.

I said I would update you on some recent paintings. This one is a commission piece I did for some close friends. It is called "soft balance" and is all about finding balance in life. Whether that be work and home, rest and play, romance and friendship, mania and depression. Balance.
What a big word. The white splatters represent all the chaos and noise going on around us that make it so hard to achieve the balance that is underneath it all, waiting to be found, to be seen.

The first picture is a progression series and the second is "soft balance" in it's new home.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Painting, distraction and anxiety

If you're friends with my on Facebook you will have probably noticed that I have been doing a lot of artwork lately! Oh boy, have I indeed! My creative flow comes and goes, and this time it is coming with great force and motivation. Which feels great bc I haven't been creative in so so long. I've done a few commission large scale paintings, and a lot of watercolour portraits. Some of the pieces I've done were done in memory of someone who had passed away, and each time I would get a vision of that person in heaven. I would be moved to tears, where I has to stop painting and just let Jesus speak to me. It was such a powerful experience.
I hope to show you all my new paintings, and explain their meaning to me in the next while, but right now concentration is really hard for me.
It has taken me 2 weeks to write this short post so far.
I can't concentrate on anything. Conversations. Cooking. Reading. Driving. Grocery shopping. Playing games. Everything is full of distractions.
I'm also very hard to entertain these days. It used me that I would just put on a tv show and I'd be good to go! But I hate watching tv now bc it is so boring. Painting and organizing seem to be the only two things that I like to do.

The other change is that my anxiety has been through the roof lately. I don't know what causes it, but I'm up and awake at 3 am most days, working around the house, filled with anxiety. If I have to leave the house for something I feel scared. Scared! Like fearful and I start sweating and crying and my heart is racing. It's fear. I know rationally I have nothing to worry about, but that doesn't matter. It is not situational anxiety!

Can anyone else relate to that?!

Until next time,

Here is one of the paintings I recently finished.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Honest cries of a breaking heart

I dont have much energy to say anything. today was a bad day, and it felt like i was relapsing into something. i have no words to describe this feeling to you so i will leave you with two devotionals that have sustained me lately...

"Divine love is received by surrender instead of any performance principle whatsoever."
"The great thing about God’s love is that it’s not determined by the object. God does not love us because we are good. God loves us because God is good. It takes our whole lives for that to sink in, along with lots of trials and testing of divine love, because that’s not how human love operates."

I love where Richard Rohr says "After the cross, we know that God is not watching human pain, nor apparently always stopping human pain, as much as God is found hanging with us alongside all human pain. Jesus’ ministry of healing and death, of solidarity with the crucified of history, forever tells us that God is found wherever the pain is. "

It is because of words like these that I am able to sing,
"We pour out a melody, god just hears a melody.
Beautiful the mess we are, honest cries of a breaking heart,
Are better than a hallelujah sometimes"

Thursday, 7 March 2013

From dark to light

This will be a shorter post, more so just to update you with my current situation.
I've been feeling relatively healthy for the last two weeks, and it's been a strange experience. It happened fairly suddenly, the up swing of my moods, so I am hesitant to talk about it because I'm afraid it will go away and back to the darkness.
It's funny though, at first when I started feeling better, I felt like I missed my depressed mind. I had been severely depressed for so many months, that was my normal. And now I didn't know what to do with my days, what to blog or talk about. I liked my dark mind, in some twisted way only people with depression could understand.
But this relief, even if it is soon to go, has been helpful for myself, and for Ryan, and it has given us both some time to recharge and refuel for the next big bang.

Side note: has anyone seen the movie "Silverlinings Playbook"?
It's about a guy who has bipolar, and a girl who has depression or borderline personality disorder. I'd like to talk about that movie on this blog, so what are your initial thoughts? Questions?